A London church has been forced to close down after a High Court ruling found that it had not accounted for £1.87 million in expenses.
In what is being called a serious fraud, SPAC Nation has been wound up over serious financial mismanagement. The London-based church group reportedly failed to properly account for more than £1.87 million of outgoings and operated with a lack of transparency.
Salvation Proclaimer Ministries Limited, more commonly known as SPAC Nation, was wound up in the public interest in the High Court on 9 June 2022 before Judge Burton. The Official Receiver has been appointed as liquidator of the company.
The church has been in the news for some time, with reports dating as far back as 2016 that the church has been scamming at-risk youth in London. The evangelical church was set up as a charity in 2012 looking to help vulnerable people and offenders. In addition, llegations of financial exploitation by senior church personnel have always been denied by church leader Pastor Tobi Adegboyega.
According to the UK’s Insolvency Service, initially, the church group received positive reviews and media attention. But by late 2019 SPAC Nation was subject to media scrutiny following allegations by former church members they had been financially exploited by senior church personnel.
The Insolvency Service received complaints about SPAC Nation before instigating its own confidential inquiries into the church group’s activities.
Investigators interviewed one of the company’s directors, Adedapo Olugbenga Adegboyega, who was also known as Dapo Adegboyega or Pastor Dapo. During interviews, Mr Adegboyega said that the church group had over 2,000 members and 200 ordained ministers and pastors but failed to provide any supporting information.
Further inquiries found that SPAC Nation either failed to comply or only partially complied with statutory requirements, including providing data to support claimed donations, and accounting records in support of £1.87 million of expenditure.
The company’s financial statements in the two years to 31 December 2019 set out £610,000 of rent expenditure. However, the company did not have a single base of its own and would hire venues across London to hold services, at significant expense.
Salvation Proclaimer Ministries Limited was wound-up after the court concluded the company operated with a lack of transparency, filed suspicious or incorrect accounts, and was insolvent at the time of the hearing.
It was also recognized that the company provided inconsistent information to the Insolvency Service and Charity Commission, and failed to deliver up adequate accounting records. The company reportedly remains subject of a statutory inquiry by the Charity Commission, who are examining financial, governance and safeguarding matters at the charity.
Edna Okhiria, Chief Investigator for the Insolvency Service, said: “While SPAC Nation claimed it had noble intentions to support vulnerable and young people, our inquiries uncovered a different side of the charity. There were clear concerns around how the church group managed its affairs and SPAC Nation failed to properly account for income received from donations and other expenditure.
“The court recognized the severity of SPAC Nation’s actions and this sends a strong message that proper records and accounts must be maintained, even if you’re a charity.”
The church has been the subject of multiple accusations of fraud and financial exploitation of members over the years. The BBC reported in November 2020 that pastor and self-styled entrepreneur Mariam Mbula was a “career con artist” who had been imprisoned in several European countries. According to the report, while SPAC Nation claimed to be helping disadvantaged young people, former members said that its leaders, including Mbula, encourage young congregants to take out loans and give huge sums to the church.
The police were carrying out a criminal investigation about allegations of fraud and other offences connected with people associated with SPAC Nation.
Police have been investigating the church since 2019 for fraud. In October 2019, SPAC Nation pastor Enrique Uwadiae was listed as one of ‘London’s Most Influential People’ by the Evening Standard. In a documentary on SPAC in September for MTV, the documentary showcased the church, including interviews with the senior pastor from the church, as well as critics. It was however later criticized by the Huff Post for not probing the church strongly enough.